Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition
Seeking other solutions
Other regions have tried to work around the long process to try to do at least something.
Broward County last year passed a law that requires landlords to provide their tenants with at least 60 days’ notice before landlords hike up the rent by more than 5%.
There is a comparable law in Miami-Dade, where “both counties found what they could do — avoid sudden shock of high rent increases,” said Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy. “Rent control was never on the table.”
Trantalis referenced the state law that bans local governments from passing ordinances to outlaw vacation rentals.
“These are the kinds of home rule that continue to plague municipalities like Fort Lauderdale,” he said. “It’s going to take a conversation with people like me, with leaders like them, to get them to understand the importance of neighborhood jurisdiction and home rule.”
Boca Raton Councilwoman Andrea Levine O’Rourke said cities should “try to maintain home rule.”
“What’s good for one municipality is not necessarily good for another municipality,” she said. “Florida is a very big state and a very diverse state, so I have a problem when we have to follow state rule. It doesn’t always work the best for the local municipalities.”
Even though no local cities recently have pushed for rent control, local leaders say that’s not the point.
“I do not appreciate the state once again preempting us from doing what’s right for our constituents,” said Cooper City Mayor Greg Ross. “I do not like being told as a municipality what we can and cannot do, as we know what’s best for our residents as opposed to state officials who have not visited Cooper City recently.”
Florida activists have called the bill “a direct attack on the Orange County voters who democratically passed a ballot initiative to stabilize rent.”
The bill “takes decisions about affordable housing out of the hands of local [elected officials] and gives it exclusively to the state, which is far removed from the housing concerns and needs specific to local residents,” said Chevalier Lovett, the chief operating officer of Florida Rising, a grassroots group that focuses on an array of issues, such as housing and voting rights, in a prepared statement.
In addition to ridding itself of rent control, the state’s affordable-housing bill makes efforts to increase housing stock, in part, by offering “incentives for public sector and private sector development of affordable housing.”
There are other portions of the bill, including creation of a “consumer-focused” website to connect tenants with affordable housing.
The housing issue is grim for Florida renters, who saw rates jump 21% from 2020 to 2021 and continue to rise through most of 2022.
In 2018 the average rent in Broward for a two-bedroom apartment was $1,902; these days it’s about $2,911. Including MiamiDade and Palm Beach County, the average in the tricounty area is about $3,100, according to the Jorge M. Perez Metropolitan Center at Florida International University, a research institute.
In all three counties there are more than 908,000 renters. Of those, more than 59% are spending more than 30% of their income on housing. Of those, more than 60% are spending half their income on housing.
Despite the concern about rent-control prohibitions, Broward County Commissioner Rich praised Senate President Passidomo for the efforts. She told county leaders Tuesday that the county needed 150,000 new units, and the problem wouldn’t be solved by building more single-family homes.
“Finally we have someone in Tallahassee in the position of leadership who understands and is going to make a priority of affordable housing,” Rich said before the meeting. “She believes very strongly we have a crisis, and there are things we can do about it. She is committed to trying to something.”